Resin Heroes

Deadpool 2 movie poster






Direct Beam Comms #102



TV

The Punisher

I am such a big fan of the character the Punisher I think my review here might be a little skewed. I’ve been collecting Punisher comics since the heyday of the character starting in the late 1980s and have spent the intervening 30 some odd years filling out my collection with various comics, collected editions, statues, toys, posters, magazines, etc., etc., etc. So to say that my review of the first episode of the new Netflix series The Punisher might not be as balanced as I’m used to would not be an understatement. Still, I endeavor to try to at least be somewhat fair here.

A little backstory on this version of the character — played marvelously by Jon Bernthal, Frank Castle aka the Punisher first appeared in 2016 during the second season of Daredevil where he served as a sort of agent of chaos in Matt Murdock/Daredevil’s world. Here, Punisher was a sort of “yin” to Daredevil’s “yang” where he had no qualms about killing bad guys even if it made Murdock’s life, who won’t kill and wants to bring the bad guys to justice, a lot harder. But in the end the two did team together to take the bad guys down, even if Castle used a lot more firepower than Murdock wanted.

What I found most interesting about the first episode of this new The Punisher series is that it starts where I would have assumed the first season would have ended. Literally in the first ten minutes of the episode Castle hunts down and kills all the men responsible for the murder of his family — what originally sent him to becoming the Punisher in the first place. I figured that the first season of The Punisher would deal with this. Or if not the first season then a good chunk of it.

What we get instead is a Frank Castle hiding under an alias living life as a construction worker in New York, City. His job as the Punisher is done yet the nightmares of his murdered family remain. So what’s Castle to do? Stay hidden in plain sight and let things like a young worker at the work site be pulled into a life of crime and do nothing? Or put back on the bullet-proof vest and declare an all-out war on crime?

I’ll let you guess as to what he does.

I was expecting a lot of things from the first episode of The Punisher and I didn’t really get any of them in this first episode. Which is a good, no, GREAT thing. I love being surprised in situations like this where the creators of the show could’ve played it safe and given the audience a version of Frank Castle/The Punisher we were all expecting from the start. It’s great that they chose to give Castle the option of being removed from his days of blowing the bad guys away or returning to his life of a vigilante. A life that would seemingly be a one-way trip to an early grave when Castle slips up or slows down one night and loses his edge for long enough for the criminals to get the upper hand on him on day.

Just that the character’s given the chance to make this decision — even if we know what decision he’s going to make since the series is called The Punisher and not Frank Castle — is a breath of fresh air.

One critique I’ve heard about the show from others is that there are more episodes than there is story to support it. Which might be true. It might also be true that The Punisher is one of those shows that needs to be watched slowly, and not binged over a weekend. We’ll see since I don’t plan on watching more than a few episodes of The Punisher a week at most.

Mindhunter – Season one

I’m not going to go into a lot of details here on the first season of Mindhunter since I’m currently working on my list of the best TV series of the year of which Mindhunter plays a part. And I’d just end up repeating myself here and there. But rest assured that Mindhunter is one of the best TV series of the year airing wherever. This show about the birth profiling serial killers by the FBI is so unlike any of the similar shows out there these days, and there are loads and loads of serial killer shows or shows that feature them, that it’s worth to note how different Mindhunter is from the rest. Those shows are all about vengeance and tracking people down whereas Mindhunter is all about talking, and trying to figure the killers out so that the next one can be stopped before he starts hurting people.

Mindhunter might just be the best show on Netflix right now and that’s saying a lot for a platform that has loads and loads and loads of great shows.

Comics

Batman: Year Two 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition Hardcover

Every comic fan knows of the Batman: Year One but it wouldn’t surprise me if most aren’t aware of the Batman: Year Two story. I’m aware that Batman: Year Two is a thing, but even having read comics for decades I’ve never read that story myself. That is, I’d thought I’d read that story, but it turns out that what I’d really read was a graphic novel called Batman: Full Circle. I know that Batman: Full Circle ties into Batman: Year Two, but Year Two Full Circle ain’t.

One thing, this collected edition retails for around $30 but if you do some hunting you can find previous collected editions of the same material for less than $10 in softcover.

From DC:

Collecting a Batman classic in hardcover for the first time! A close friend of Bruce Wayne introduces him to Rachel Caspian, and the two quickly develop a romantic relationship. But in the midst of love, Rachel’s father decides to come out of retirement as the Reaper, Gotham City’s first vigilante!

Movies

Rampage movie trailer

Deadpool 2 movie trailer

The Reading & Watch List

Rumor Control

I’ve started making a list of things to write about over 2018 for my bi-weekly columns and much like in 2017 I was easily able to fill out much of 2018 with things to write about very quickly. Looking at my list, there’s really only eight non-movie things I’ll write about next year in 24 columns. And much like last year a lot of what I have listed to write about are upcoming superhero and sci-fi films. Which even just a few years ago I’d have had problems finding even a handful of movies I was interested in to write about, now there’s so many I literally can’t get to them all.

Here’s a list of films I’ll probably write longer articles on in 2018:

  • Annihilation
  • Black Panther
  • The New Mutants
  • Rampage
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story
  • Deadpool 2
  • The Incredibles 2
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp
  • Mission: Impossible 6
  • The Predator
  • Venom
  • X-Men: Dark Phoenix

Cool Movie & TV Posters of the Week




The Best of the Rest



The book I didn’t know I couldn’t live without until I had it: Art of Atari.

I don’t really consider myself as having grown up with the Atari video game system. I played the Atari when and had fun doing so, but to me the Atari seemed like the system of the generation before mine. Still, one thing that I always admired about Atari were the covers for their video games. When the Atari was new the graphics for video games were extremely primitive. Instead of having recognizable avatars, even top of the line games would have things like red squares representing people and triangles spaceships. But the art created for the game cartridges was something else entirely. With the covers we get these beautiful traditionally hand illustrated paintings of what we’d imagine was going on in the game, and not what was actually happening on screen. And the new Art of Atari book collects lots and lots of these original paintings.

I especially like the covers done by artist Steve Hendricks who helped define a house style for how the Atari video game cartridges should look in his, what’s now a retro, style that’s absolutely gorgeous.

Nowadays covers to video game are all illustrated in this hyper-realistic 3D style that’s supposed to emulate the actual video game content within. Which is a shame since while that’s nice, I’d argue that the approach by the artists of the Atari age was better.

My favorite comic book character who returned after a long absence: The Punisher.

Okay, I lied — the Punisher’s been around in one form or another since he debuted in the early 1970s. But over the last decade he was a mostly forgotten character writers would use to try out their ideas on before moving onto something else. However, in 2016 the Punisher returned with a vengeance (haha) after having appeared in the latest season of Daredevil and is now being spun-off into his own Netflix series due out laster this year.

Best of all most of the Punisher’s early comic book stories are now available in collected forms with these massive editions of both Punisher and Punisher War Journal out and available for purchase.

My favorite books about how hard it is to create something that stands the test of time: The Fifty-Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek.

I’d always assumed that the making of the Star Trek TV series was mostly easy. Or easier than it seems like it is with other series, especially since the show was in production for 18 years from 1987 to 2005. But I was surprised to learn how wrong I was after having read the two volume The Fifty-Year Mission… that chronicles all things Star Trek from before the first series debuted in 1966 to the last Enterprise and all the movies as well. I’d known how dysfunctional the original Star Trek set was in the 1960s, but I had no idea how dysfunctional all the sets were. It seems like whenever there’s even the hint of success for someone, someone else already in power’s going to get jealous, and when that happens it means trouble for everyone else down the line.

After having read the books, I get the feeling that whenever anything Star Trek related worked it was usually because of just a few people, but when Star Trek failed it was because of the decisions of committees.

My favorite actor/writer who redefined the superhero genera even though no one believed in him: Ryan Reynolds.

I’m not a big fan of actor Ryan Reynolds, but after 2016 I have to admit two things: 1) He was totally right in spending a decade doggedly trying to get his movie Deadpool to the big screen and 2), Deadpool is the character he was born to play. And now because of the success of Deadpool we have this alt-superhero movie that really isn’t like any other superhero movie before. And because it was so successful means that we now have the opportunity to have other superhero films that are new and different then the standard superhero fare that we’re treated to a few times each year.




The best movie & TV posters of 2016



The best posters of 2016 were for the movie Suicide Squad.

suicide_squad

Suicide Squad

One of the ways I judge the best posters of the year is if I’d like to have them hanging on the walls of my office — and boy-oh-boy would I love to see the posters for the movie Suicide Squad hanging there. What I think works so well about them is they break a lot of design “rules” by using elements like hyper “acidic” colors — or colors that a painting professor I had used to say, “were so intense they hurt my teeth” — and diverging design components that you’re not supposed to use.

Which, in lesser hands, could make the posters look amateurish, but instead makes the ones for Suicide Squad stand out from the flood of superhero posters that have come before. Posters for similar movies have, not so much failed, as failed to live up to expectations, in that they all kind’a look the same. I don’t think anyone would mistake the Suicide Squad poster for, say, a Captain America poster. And in an industry that seems to generate lots of campaigns that look the same as every other poster campaign, the ones for Suicide Squad have a wholly unique aesthetic.

the_arrival

Arrival

I am a sucker for sci-fi movies. I’ll give just about any movie or TV series labeled “science-fiction” a try as long as it looks interesting enough. And the posters for the movie Arrival makes that movie look reeeeeeeally interesting. They feature these colossal alien ships that look a bit like a cross between a squished hockey puck and a sunflower seed impossibly hovering in the sky. And the whole campaign puts these ships at different locals around the world which adds to the immense scale of the ships and the movie as well.

better_call_saul

Better Call Saul

I’m a big fan of the TV series Better Call Saul and I only wanted to see the premiere of the second season even more after the release of these posters. Here, the character of Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) is walking across the street at a crazy angle, and it’s just him that’s being affected by the slant. I love all the taglines this poster could have but doesn’t. Like, “It’s not easy being bent” or even, “Becoming a criminal is an uphill battle.” And the poster for Better Call Saul on Netflix is just as good with Odenkirk sitting oddly on a bench with the tagline, “The truth is how you look at it” above.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

The poster for last years’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens was all right. It seemed to be a modern version of those classic Drew Struzan Star Wars posters of old, except that instead of Struzan traditionally illustrating the posters someone created a photo illustration. And while the poster for Rogue One is a photo illustration too, I think where that poster is unexpected whereas The Force Awakens is in line with what’s come before is that Rogue One has its own unique look and color scheme. So much so that I don’t think anyone could mistake it for another Star Wars film.

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Stranger Things

The poster for the breakout TV hit of the summer Stranger Things is just as cool as the other posters on this list but in its own way. This poster is illustrated in the Struzan style and has just enough nostalgia factor that even if the series weren’t a good as it is I’d still be a fan of this poster.

Captain America: Civil War & Star Trek: Beyond

I thought the posters for Captain America: Civil War and Star Trek: Beyond were top notch too. The poster for Captain America takes a closeup shot of Cap and Iron Man battling each other from the perspective of Cap — and there’s a companion poster out there too that shows this action from opposite angle. And the poster for Star Trek: Beyond is so different then the other modern Star Trek posters while at the same time utilizing design elements from classic Star Trek posters that it’s breathtaking. Interestingly enough, the poster doesn’t have Star Trek anywhere on it, we just get the Enterprise swooping on a field of color with the words “Beyond” below.

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The X-Files

The X-Files revival TV series might have been a bit of a mixed bag, but that doesn’t mean that the poster campaign released to promote the show wasn’t creepy as all get-out! “I still want to believe” indeed!

Deadpool

I don’t think I could call myself a true poster aficionado if I didn’t include at least one poster for the movie Deadpool on this list, the most PG of which features the title character making the heart sign with his hands with “Feel the love this Valentine’s Day” below.




Direct Beam Comms #12



TV

The X-Files

The X-Files mini-series ended its run last week and I’d rank this first season of new shows or 10th season of the classic ones, however you define it, as being more successful than not. What seemed to not work this time around were connected episodes related to The X-Files conspiracy while what did work were all of the other “monster of the week” episodes that were somewhat interconnected but all had self-contained stories. I’m not sure why the two conspiracy episodes didn’t connect with me this time around? Perhaps what scared us so much back in the ‘90s and early ‘00s like governmental programs to create alien viruses and media control seem quaint in a time of wars and real government media control and overall uncertainty.

That being said, with the new “monster of the week” episodes The X-Files operates like the old Twilight Zone used to where ideas that would be too controversial to be tackled head on instead were approached in the guise of sci-fi and horror slightly hiding the theme in the gauss of reptile scales or mutant telekinetic kids.

Historical Series

I’ve noticed that a lot of shows that take place at some point in the past have debuted. I kind’a wonder if this is because of the old adage that in uncertain times we tend to look to the past for comfort or if it’s simply because with bigger TV budgets and computer effects that can believably turn, say, 2016 Los Angeles into 1940s New York.

Here’s a listing of current TV series that take place sometime in the past, and this does’t take into account time travel shows like Legends of Tomorrow or 12 Monkeys that take place in the past and future too:

  • 11.22.63 (HULU): Early 1960s US but mostly Texas.
  • Agent Carter (ABC): Late 1940s New York and Los Angeles.
  • American Crime Story (FX): 1994 & ’95 Los Angeles.
  • The Americans (FX): Early 1980s Washington DC & northeast US.
  • Fargo (FX): Most recently the late 1970s northern US.
  • Better Call Saul (AMC): 2002 New Mexico.
  • Fresh Off the Boat (ABC): 1995 Orlando.
  • The Goldbergs (ABC): 1980s Philadelphia.
  • Halt and Catch Fire (AMC): Early 1980s Texas.
  • The Knick (Cinemax): Early 1900s New York.
  • Manhattan (WGN): 1944 & ’45 New Mexico.
  • The Man in the High Castle (Amazon): Alternate Reality early 1960s US.
  • Salem (WGN): 1600s Massachusetts.
  • Vinyl (HBO): 1973 New York.

Deadpool

Deadpool

Deadpool

It took me a while to see this one, and really the only reason I went was because a friend and his son were going and I got an invite, but I was pleasantly surprised as to just how much I liked Deadpool. It’s not like I hadn’t heard it was good; most of the reviews I read were glowing and all of my friends who’d already saw it loved it. But I’ve never been a big fan of star Ryan Reynolds or co-star T. J. Miller so I really wasn’t too excited about spending $10 to see Deadpool.

That being said, Wade Wilson/Deadpool was the role that Reynolds was born to play. All his acting tendencies that can make him so annoying and hard to watch in other roles actually work for the Deadpool character here. It’s like all the training he got playing the annoying guy in Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place and annoying Hal Jordan in Green Lantern … really the annoying guy in just about everything he’s ever played actually works well here in a movie about a superhero that’s supposed to be annoying.

I was surprised too just how strong the supporting characters in Deadpool were. Special mention goes to B or C list X-Men at best Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) and Colossus. While Colossus has gotten a bit of screen time in the past he’s never been as integral, or as on-screen as long, as he is here as a character realized through CGI. And Negasonic, a character who I had only been dimly aware of before, shows that there’s really no need to call on the same roster of X-Men over and over again — Cyclops, Jean Grey, Wolverine… — when there’s literally hundreds of other interesting characters in the X-Men universe to choose from in future stories.

And Deadpool is funny in all the right/wrong ways too. It’s almost as much a comedy as it is a superhero action movie. My question with superhero movies moving forward is if all the other traditional superhero movies that come after Deadpool will look old and stodgy in comparison? B+